The mother of a 17-year-old boy stabbed to death on a Surrey bus this week tells Daily Hive she was tracking his phone GPS on his journey home and knew something was wrong when the dot travelled to Royal Columbian Hospital.
Holly Indridson said her son Ethan Bespflug was in Surrey hanging out with friends and was going to take the bus part of the way home to Abbotsford and she would pick him up from the stop.
The 503 bus wasn’t Bespflug’s usual way home, but he’d started taking that route during the Fraser Valley transit strike. She was tracking his location to see when to pick him up, when his direction took a heartbreaking turn.
“I was like, ‘Why the hospital? This can’t be good,'” she said. “I jumped in my car and I just left. I searched the whole hospital, and didn’t want to ask where he was because I had a bad feeling.”
Bespflug was taken to hospital with critical injuries, and was pronounced dead there, according to police. They believe the attack aboard the bus at King George Boulevard and 100th Avenue was targeted and not gang-related. No suspects have been arrested.
Indridson remembers her son as a wonderful older brother who loved going to the mall, the beach or on hikes with his friends. Movie nights at home were frequent, and Indridson said she had a close and open relationship with her son — he was “never afraid” to ask her about anything.
“He was always caring about everyone else,” she said. “He was my little buddy.”
Indridson wants to see more security on Metro Vancouver transit to stop incidents like this in the future, and she’s not the only one. An online petition started after Bespflug’s death demanding BC make transit safer has garnered more than 5,000 signatures.
Indridson also wants to encourage other parents to get their kids’ mental health help if they need it.
“Parents need to be aware of their children if they’re having violent tendencies. It has to stop before these things get to extremes,” she said. “If you’re stressed, if you want to hurt other people, then go seek help.”
Bespflug had just wrapped up his Grade 10 studies at Bakerview Centre for Learning and was due to graduate next year. His mother is grieving and wants to move to a new place because she can’t bear to keep living in her home without him.
“I just expect him to walk up the stairs to his room and snuggle his kitty-cat,” she said. “I’m just a shell of a person. I’m lost. Life is moving, but I don’t want it to move without him.”
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Two of Bespflug’s aunts, one who’s Indridson’s sister and another on his father’s side, have each arranged online fundraisers to help with funeral costs for the family. Indridson said she’s very grateful for the outpouring of support.
Bespflug’s killing was one of several violent incidents aboard transit this month. On April 1, a man’s throat was slashed by a stranger after an altercation between the two men on the Surrey bus. The suspect is now facing terrorism charges.
On Wednesday, according to the bus driver’s union, there was a violent and bloody fight onboard a moving vehicle on West Vancouver Blue Bus.
On Friday, there was an assault on a transit bus in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that sent the victim to hospital. It happened the same day that TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn spoke about safety on transit at a news conference.
“I want to be abundantly clear that everyone has the right to feel safe on transit. These incidents are absolutely unacceptable… I’m angry, really angry and frustrated,” Quinn said.
Daily Hive has asked the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team about any updates on Bespflug’s case but has not yet heard back.